BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — 19 is the age many of us are just starting our young adult lives. But for Ira Stevenson, 19 is the age he was found dead at one of the many vineyards covering Kern County. It happened last August, but his mother, Pamela Stevenson, remembers the last time she saw him alive like it was yesterday.
“He was like, ‘Mom, I’m going to go visit with a friend,'” Stevenson said, “And I asked him to wash dishes and he was like ‘When I come home I’ll wash them,’ or ‘I’ll wash them in the morning when I come back.’ And I was like ‘OK, I love you, be safe.’ It’s always a thing you do when they leave the house.”
Ira was found, shot to death, at a vineyard near Lamont, just off South Vineland and Hermosa Roads. Months later, his mother wears his ashes on a necklace, something she had wanted her kids to do for her. And she’s still waiting for an arrest.
“That person who killed my son is still out there,” said Stevenson. “So I’m scared for my other two, too, when they go out.”
Stevenson plans to participate in Wednesday’s Honor and Remembrance Drive in front of the court house on Truxtun Avenue, where the faces of last year’s many victims of homicide will be seen.
It comes during Crime Victims’ Rights Week, and the District Attorney’s Office is using the opportunity to spread the word about the type of assistance available for crime victims and their families.
“The victim advocates are there for the victims,” said District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer during an interview on 17 News at Sunrise. The District Attorney said victim advocates at the DA’s office meet with families to help them with what they need after the crime, including funeral costs, counseling, and navigating the criminal justice system. Zimmer recommends any victims having issues should call the office at (661) 868-2340.
But Zimmer also wants more people to use the Kern Secret Witness program to help solve cases, especially after a record-breaking year for criminal homicides in Kern County.
“If you call the number your information can be completely secret, you won’t have to end up as a witness in court,” said Zimmer.
Pamela Stevenson said she believes someone out there knows what happened to Ira before his body was found at that vineyard. And she believes the right tip could help her find out, but understands that some may be afraid to put themselves in danger, or get themselves in trouble. But, she is pleading with people to speak up, not just for her family, but for others.
“There’s people that, their families are hurting, they need answers, they don’t have closure,” said Stevenson, “And it’s like your heart, every day, it just breaks because you don’t know what happened.”
The Secret Witness tip line is (661) 322-4040.